UK PR Manager, Melissa Collins, works for high street fashion retailer River Island. Here she talks about her career within fashion PR and offers advice on how to break into the industry.
What’s a typical day for you?
Working in fashion PR at River Island, no two days are ever the same! The role is so diverse that I could be on a photo-shoot one day, a breakfast meeting with journalists or in the press showroom the next. I work with press and bloggers on a daily basis to keep that communication strong, whether that’s selling a story/collaboration in or helping out with sample requests. My role requires me to build relationships internally too, so I also liaise with the buyers and designers at River Island ensuring we know what they are buying and what the focus is for the upcoming seasons.
What do you love most about your job?
I love fashion and the buzz you get when you see your brand appear in the likes of Vogue, GQ and other prestigious magazines. I get to work on some fantastic events, press days, product launches plus once in a lifetime campaigns such as the Rihanna X River Island and the 5 Inch and Up X River Island collaborations. Both were amazing and such fantastic experiences to help drive forward and be a part of, from the original ideas right through to the finished piece.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Time! There are never enough hours in the day! When I first started working in the World of PR, I was working with just magazines, paper and broadcast journalists. Now that online plays a huge part, I feel I have to spread myself thinly across all areas as I work with bloggers and vloggers too.
What makes the fashion industry so exciting to work in?
It’s constantly changing and I’m excited to see where it goes in the next 10 years. I think the digital world is set to grow and grow, especially YouTube; this is an area which is growing rapidly and I can see it getting bigger and bigger. However, I really hope the online world doesn’t dominate the media world and make more print titles fold as I still think there is a place for both the glossy magazines/national papers and the bloggers and online magazines. They just have different offerings.
What would look for in a candidate if you were looking for someone to join your team?
I would look for experience within the fashion industry; whether that’s within another PR team, in a retail environment or working for a magazine. It’s also important to be a people’s person; you have to meet and develop relationships with new people – press, bloggers, vloggers – so whether that’s face to face or over the phone, you have to have confidence and good communication skills. I would also look for someone who has a hunger for both fashion and PR.
Have you got any advice for people wanting to get into either fashion or PR?
Be confident, creative and persistent – live and breathe the industry! You will have to complete a lot of work experience to get that first break, but the knowledge and connections you gain are worth it. Work experience really helps to leverage those ‘foot in the door’ opportunities. Go above and beyond what is asked of you on your placement or internship, if you make a good impression, chances are people will remember you which is vital when that entry level or assistant role comes up. Networking is also key. Don’t be afraid to add people you meet on LinkedIn and build your profile so it showcases your experience and skills. Many in-house recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent so make sure yours is up-to-date!
What sums up fashion PR for you?
Fashion PR is fun, creative and very fast paced.